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The authors of this blog are lawyers or consultants employed by the RCT Group of companies, which includes staff who work mainly within our Stringer Clark offices.

From time to time, we may also invite guest bloggers to contribute, in which case this will be made clear. Authors who are part of the RCT Group are qualified to practice law in Victoria, Australia. Any advice applies to Victorian State law as at the date of first publication. The information is a general guide only and is not a substitute for legal advice applicable to a user's own circumstances.

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Recent Authors

Christian Farrelly

Christian Farrelly is a solicitor whose professional focus is superannuation. He also has an interest in commercial and criminal law and wills and probate.

Michael Burdess

Michael Burdess joined Stringer Clark in early 2006 and practices in the area of personal injury including WorkSafe and TAC.

Creon Coolahan

Creon Coolahan is a solicitor in our Warrnambool office and has extensive experience in a range of practice areas with a focus on injury law and employment issues.

Penny Savidis

Penny Savidis is an Partner of the firm and practices predominantly in the area of employment law.

Angela Sdrinis

Angela Sdrinis is a senior partner with Ryan Carlisle Thomas. She is an LIV Accredited Specialist in Personal Injuries with extensive experience in Comcare matters.

Published: 3 May 2011
Author: Shaun Marcus

WorkSafe now continues to pay superannuation to injured workers

(that is, as long as your workplace injury was after 5 April 2011)

It has long been a source of frustration, if not anger, among injured workers that, having suffered the pain of a workplace injury, which can often end their jobs, they then incurred the indignity of having their Super suspended forever, with little prospect of adding to their retirement money.

One of the welcome, if often overlooked, changes made to compensation law last year now requires WorkSafe to continue paying superannuation to injured workers.

Under changes made to the Accident Compensation Act, WorkSafe will now pick up the Super contributions of injured workers once they have been on weekly benefits for one year, and continue to pay them till the standard retirement age, provided of course that the worker continues to be entitled to a weekly payment from WorkSafe.

This loophole has long been a major irritation, if not source of anger, for workers. Faced with mounting medical bills, stonewalling by a company's insurer, anxiety at home, and uncertainty about the future, they then have their future superannuation payments stripped from them.

In my experience, and that of my WorkSafe experts within RCT, the changes will most put the minds at ease of workers in their late 40s and early 50s, who even though they may respond well to rehabilitation, often face a tough task finding new employment. For these people especially, the prospect of being marooned on a disability pension for their rest of their lives, with little prospect of having any excess cash for basic home maintenance, support for their grandchildren, a replacement car, or whatever they may have in mind, has been a bleak and embittering experience.

Following that period of 52 weeks of receiving weekly payments, WorkSafe or a self-insurer must continue to pay superannuation to the injuryed worker's Super Fund, subject to it being a fund that complies with the Superannuation Act. The employee must notify WorkSafe or the Self-Insurer of his or her tax file number and details of the fund into which the payments will continue to be made.

WorkSafe must within 28 days of having become aware that it is liable to pay to a worker continuing Super payments, notify the worker in writing of these arrangements. WorkSafe Insurers regularly miss deadline dates, we highly recommend you follow up your Insurer or contact your lawyer to ensure you are receiving your correct entitlements.

The rate at which of the Super payments will continue must be expressed as a percentage figure in that notification. The intent here is that the Super contributions reflect the minimum percentage required under the Commonwealth Government's superannuation legislation, and so any future changes to that legislation should be reflected also in the rate of payment made to the injured worker.

There is typically a downside in any compensation legislation, and these amendments are no exception, and here is the rub. The Super arrangements are only effective for all claims made on or after 5 April 2011. Existing claims prior to this date miss out.

So while there are deficiencies in the new Act, and some of the positive amendments are long over-due, the changes are welcome and will offer some financial relief to workers who, often through no fault of their own, have found themselves stranded on a subsistence pension with little prospect of improving their financial standing.

Shaun Marcus is an associate with RCT who specialises in workers compensation.

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